Monday, January 2, 2012

To A Contemporary Bunkshooter

Sometimes called 'Billy Sunday'
I love this poem by Carl Sandburg. When I was a Junior at my little Jesuit High School in Fall River, Massachusetts I had to give a dramatic reading for Speech and Debate class. I asked my mother for a suggestion. She suggested, 'To A Contemporary Bunkshooter' by Carl Sandburg and typed it up on index cards for me. OMG. The day I gave this speech stands out as one of my favorite days in my entire academic career.

This particular elective was one of the few Junior/ Senior combined classes. That's not all, for some reason, all of the very coolest Seniors (the rugby shirt wearing boys from Portsmouth, Bristol and Newport) were in my class.. Of course I was nervous. But I had it down. I had practiced for days. I was totally into it. Listening to my pick had to be better than hearing another, 'I Have A Dream' or 'Fourscore And Seven Years Ago.' Everyone was playing it safe, boring and repetitive. My mother was brilliant.

My teacher, Mr. Crowley, always sat in the very back of the classroom when we gave our speeches. I got up there with my indexcards and enjoyed saying every single word that I read. This is such a wonderful poem. I love it every single time I read it. Mostly, I love remembering the way that I had the entire classroom's attention until the very last words. My delivery was fine, but it was the words. Sandburg Rules. Mr. Crowley shouted (I will never forget this as long as I live.) :

"A- Plus Miss McGowan! I was tired of seeing corpses up there!"

Get this: all of the people he was accusing of being dead behind the eyes clapped for me again, as I took my seat! I could not believe it. This is a good poem.

Carl Sandburg

You come along. . . tearing your shirt. . .
yelling about Jesus.
Where do you get that stuff?
What do you know about Jesus?

Jesus had a way of talking soft,and outside of a few
bankers and higher-ups among the con men of Jerusalem
everybody liked to have this Jesus around because
he never made any fake passes and everything
he said went and he helped the sick and gave the
people hope.

You come along squirting words at us, shaking your fist
and calling us all damn fools so fierce the froth slobbers
over your lips. . . always blabbing we're all
going to hell straight off and you know all about it.

I've read Jesus' words. I know what he said. You don't
throw any scare into me. I've got your number. I
know how much you know about Jesus.

He never came near clean people or dirty people but
they felt cleaner because he came along. It was your
crowd of bankers and business men and lawyers
hired the sluggers and murderers who put Jesus out
of the running.

I say the same bunch backing you
nailed the nails into the hands of this Jesus of Nazareth.
He had lined up against him the same crooks and
strong-arm men now lined up with you paying your way.

This Jesus was good to look at,
smelled good, listened good.
He threw out something fresh and beautiful
from the skin of his body and the touch of his hands
wherever he passed along.

You slimy bunkshooter, you put a smut on every human
blossom in reach of your rotten breath belching
about hell-fire and hiccupping about this Man who
lived a clean life in Galilee.

When are you going to quit making the carpenters build
emergency hospitals for women and girls driven
crazy with wrecked nerves from your gibberish about
Jesus?--I put it to you again: Where do you get that
stuff? What do you know about Jesus?

Go ahead and bust all the chairs you want to. Smash
a whole wagon load of furniture at every performance.
Turn sixty somersaults and stand on your nutty head.

If it wasn't for the way you scare the women and kids
I'd feel sorry for you and pass the hat.
I like to watch a good four-flusher work, but not when
he starts people puking and calling for the doctors.

I like a man that's got nerve and can pull off a great
original performance, but you--you're only a bug-
house peddler of second-hand gospel--you're only
shoving out a phoney imitation of the goods this
Jesus wanted free as air and sunlight.

You tell people living in shanties
Jesus is going to fix it up all right with them
by giving them mansions in the skies
after they're dead and the worms have eaten 'em.

You tell $6 a week department store girls
all they need is Jesus.
You take a steel trust wop,
dead without having lived,
gray and shrunken at forty years of
age, and you tell him to look at Jesus on the cross
and he'll be all right.

You tell poor people they don't need any more money
on pay day and even if it's fierce to be out of a job,
Jesus'll fix that up all right, all right--all they gotta
do is take Jesus the way you say.

I'm telling you- Jesus wouldn't stand for the stuff you're
handing out. Jesus played it different. The bankers
and lawyers of Jerusalem got their sluggers and
murderers to go after Jesus just because Jesus
wouldn't play their game. He didn't sit in with
the big thieves.

I don't want a lot of gab from a bunkshooter in my religion.
I won't take my religion from any man who never works
except with his mouth and never cherishes any memory
except the face of the woman on the American silver dollar.

I ask you to come through and show me where you're
pouring out the blood of your life.
I've been to this suburb of Jerusalem they call Golgotha,
where they nailed Him, and I know if the story is straight.

It was real blood ran from His hands and
the nail-holes, and it was real blood spurted in red
drops where the spear of the Roman soldier rammed
in between the ribs of this Jesus of Nazareth.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Food Chain.

Everybody loved Elroy the Cat. Mr.Tough Guy. He ran away for 8 months and came back all fat and dirty the day after my birthday. He just walked right in like he had never left, hinting around for food. I think some old lady was holding him hostage. I loved that cat. He got hit by a car 2 and a half years after his triumphant return.

Dinner. Elroy staring at Ranger in the old kitchen. They are both dead.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

It Was A Dark & Stormy Night When All The Saints Got Lit Up.

I love these kind of candles. They only cost $1.50 at the grocery store and they are little works of art. I have recently started a collection, and I urge everyone to do the same. They look awesome en masse.If you make it your New Year's resolution to buy one a week, you will have 51 of them by Christmas. Then maybe stop.

Not only nice to look at- they can be a true answer to prayer during sudden Acts of God. Irene was just a breeze thanks to my collection of light up Saints.
I was unaware of my theme until I brought San Jose home to the ladies. It is a sign.
I must go to California at once. It is God's will.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

You Are Putting Me On.

I was cleaning the garage this afternoon. I was also thinking that I really needed some work gloves if I was going to make any kind of dent. I was all ready to run back into the house, pour myself a glass of lemonade, and admit defeat.

What could I do? My hands were tied. The only way I was going to do a good job was if I had some work gloves. No sense in doing just a so- so job. As soon as I had some gloves, by golly, I would tackle this place head on with avengence. And so on.

As I carried on in my head, I was feeling pretty good about abandoning ship. I had swept a little and hung the bikes up. Not bad. I needed gloves, that's all. I promised myself that I would return the minute I got some.

I am not sure if this kind of thing has been happening to me all of my life and it is only lately that I have been noticing it, but now it is just getting wacky. My thoughts are being attended to? Is that possible? As I went to turn off the light by the side door, get a load of what catches my eye.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Why Not Take All of Me?

What if we give it away? This was taken in Pultan Bazaar, across from the clocktower in downtown Dehradun,in India. The boys and I met this guy,the most bizarre fellow at the bazaar. He asked me to give him all of my money.

Some man on the street translated for me. He couldn't have said 'all'. Really? Talk about crash and burn. I said, "All?" Yep.The bilingual guy assured me that he had heard the little pumpkin correctly. He translated, "Yes Madam, that is what he said, 'She needs to give me all of her money.'"

Oh, he NEEDS me to give him ALL of my money!. Now that makes sense. I thought he just wanted it. He was insisting on compensation for those red dots on the boys foreheads.He had swooped in on them, out of no where, and thumbed both their foreheads. It wasn't as if they had been waiting hours on end in line for an audience with him. Blessed be to God!

That delusional alms seeker even pointed to an ATM! He was so helpful. According to this beggarprophet, his touch was sacred and worth more than gold. Giving him the entire contents of my bank account would have been a bargain. Imagine this- those dots came right off with soap and water.

He got all sullen and disappointed when things didn't go per his instruction. This fly by night, get rich quick scheme of his had some definite holes. I'd love to see his Plan B. He was ridiculously dramatic. And loud. His righteous indignation seemed so sincere, I just couldn't believe it.

Really? Was he really serious? He HAD to be joking. He honestly couldn't have expected me to, first of all, cross that street, period. The ATM was on the other side of the moon, as far as I was concerned. There was no way. Let's just say that I had been foolhardy enough to take two young children on foot across that congested snarl of lawless traffic weaving wildly around meandering cows and herds of goats (and that day, I think I even saw a pig). I can't remember the street's actual name- and I still haven't forgotten it's nickname, "suicide alley".

Then, let's say that the boys and I had survived our journey to the other side,so to speak. I just don't think the next thing I would have done would have been to start punching in my pin number. For me to withdraw a bunch of money with the sole intent of handing it to a guy I had met five minutes earlier and would more than likely never see again in my life should have seemed impossible, even from his perspective. Really? Was my reaction that far in left field for him? He truly seemed shocked. What a riot. He had to have been joking.

Bad luck, little man. We got in the next available rickshaw, clutching all that we had in our fists. He didn't even get a token offering from us which he probably would have if he hadn't behaved so badly. He was kind of neat to look at. I would have given him something for that.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Pray For Him.

I found an old box of books while clearing out my parent's basement. I saw my mother's worn out Bible right on top. This little clipping was neatly tucked into the pages of Deuteronomy, Chapters 28 and 29. That was the only thing in there.

She is doing this on purpose, just to amuse me. I know it. St. Pat McGowan wants to make me laugh. Please don't miss her notation at the bottom. What a gem. She's an angel.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

I Was A Star Witness.

Honolulu. 1996.
Sleeping on the job. Among other things, I was paid very well to watch The Guiding Light with eighty nine year old Zohmah Charlot every weekday at noon. Then we would take a nap. Most of the time, I slept right through her hour long story.

After that, we'd sit on her back lanai to see what famous people were golfing in Kahala that day. I also collected bags and bags of maybe used once Titleist golf balls. Everyday was Easter. Zohmah got into it, too. She could no longer speak, but she excelled at pointing and looking enthusiastic. I had bags and bags of balls, I tell you. Hundreds! Barely used top of the line golf balls and I am pretty sure a few of them used to belong to Bill Clinton. I am positive that this particular stockpile had everything to do with my marriage proposal from Fabio. I was a gold mine. I mean, c'mon.

If we got bored watching the golfers we could take that 4 minute walk to the beach or maybe head up the Kahala Oriental Mandarin Hotel (that was eight minutes on foot (and wheelchair)) for cocktails. We were always bumping into movie stars. We saw a few big names at the hotel. John Travolta, Nicholas Cage, Ben Affleck, Johnny Depp, Justin Timberlake, Cameron Diaz, and a very quick glimpse of Nicole Kidman. I never said a word to any of them. It was so bizarre to see their strangely familiar faces pop up out of nowhere on a Tuesday afternoon,say. I guess that's where they stayed. I would always just look at them and think, 'you are stinking rich, you lucky bastard.'

I really wanted to go up to each one of them, separately, and say, "Don't kid yourself, hotshot. Acting is so overrated, and actors are so overpaid." Yeah, right. I never did approach any of them with my insightful-on the money- commentary, and why is that? Because it is not polite to insult rich, powerful, and good looking people.

They could- still can, I reckon- afford every luxury available without a worry in the world. Imagine that. If that ever became my well travelled day to day, I bet that I would behave differently as well. Who among us feels like throwing the first rock? I mean really. You would be weird too. Those headliners all had a way, kind of the same way, too.

Magnum PI's, all of them. They had a casual air of Practiced Importance. A sense of entitlement had crept into their vernacular, and their grand scale life -that 'Hollywood Life'- had (has) for them, become a given. They are suddenly really, really into to only the finest things, and it's totally cool. They can be. The absolute best of everything has become commonplace and expected. It is entirely affordable. They are spoon fed and doggedly encouraged. Celebrity cash cow. Just let the assistant handle it.

They would never, ever say 'Look at me. Aren't I great?' They can't even do it as a joke. It isn't that funny to anyone else.They would sound like ego ed out jerks because they would mean it. You can bet your bottom dollar that 'Look at me. Aren't I great' is on a running loop in every one of their wigged out heads. They just can't say it out loud. That would be gross and kind of pretentious. They aren't stupid. They are just lucky, and rich and usually beautiful.

I sound like sour grapes and I don't mean to. I am not really jealous, I am more intrigued. Honestly, good for them. Bravo. Encore. Whatever.Someone has to get chosen. It is so arbitrary. I mean, God bless her, but Renee Zellweger? Who decides these things? Some people just get lucky and I think that they might really believe that they earned the lap that they find themselves in. They forget that their real god given talent
is plain old L-U-C-K. luck.

Those lucky little rock stars. They all have that... how do you say? Jenesaisquoi. No, 'Haughty Humility',is what I'll call it, if such a thing exists. It's not even their fault. I'd be the same way. Anyone would. That must be mind numbing as well as ego inflating. They aren't thinking straight, and they probably never will. I'll say it again- I hardly blame them.

These movie stars were the opposite of rude. They convincingly appeared embarrassed while being escorted to the front of the line. They graced us all with a few hellos, after all. OMG. He looked at me. He said hello. What? I just kept thinking, 'Who are they?' Why does their presence excite me so? Why am I NERVOUS?' These people walk into rooms like that everyday. Rooms filled with speechless little nutjobs just like me. All that silent, astonished staring. Their heads must be balloons. It would be hard not to have an over inflated ego at this exchange.

Now, Jim Nabors, Tom Selleck, and Charo were par for the course, if you will. No big deal. We exchanged normal, neighborly hellos and nice nods. I used to see those three all the time at the grocery store. We shopped at the same Star Market. Charo wore high heels and a high ponytail; and she was still strutting some high water booty too, at 65. She never disappointed. Her way was refreshingly real, oddly enough. Coochie coochie coo.

I do have a cute Ben Affleck story though. I was driving down Kalakaua Ave in Waikiki, totally out to there pregnant with one of my boys. Mr. Affleck put me in such a tizzy, I can't remember which boy. I kind of recall baby Owen being in the back seat which narrows it down some.

I had the windows down, it was a beautiful day of course.
I was listening to Springsteen's Rosalita pretty loudly.
I heard a beep.
Ben Affleck pulled up beside me and waved.I literally got nervous and then I got mad at myself for getting nervous. I waved back, sort of. I tried to act cool. He waved again.He gave me the thumbs up! What? We kept passing each other and he kept smiling at me.

When I got home, I told Fabio all about it, "Either I look awfully cute eight months pregnant or Ben Affleck really likes Bruce Springsteen." Fabio started cracking up. "Lucy, you have a bumper sticker that says 'Save Fenway Park' and you are driving around Honolulu." I Ben had.

Oh Lord. I didn't mention Jack.
Jack Lord. He loved an ascot.

Speaking of men's fashions, I also met Richard Chamberlain at a necktie display in the Ralph Lauren store at the Ala Moana Shopping Center. He seemed nice. He actually acted a little uncomfortable with himself, could have been a bad day.I hear everyone gets them. He was smiling way too much to mean it at all.

And there was Roddy McDowall one table away at California Pizza Kitchen in the Kahala Mall when my oldest was just 3 days old. Roddy got an earful from two old Japanese ladies giving me hell for bringing a baby that young outside in the world. "He should be swaddled at home" were their exact words.

Owen's doctor's office was in the mall and I did not feel like cooking. I tried to tell them to lay off, but I started crying instead. After they left, Roddy said that they had been "uncalled for." Roddy come lately, after the fact Roddy. Thanks Roddy. Roddy didn't make me feel anything. I wasn't excited and he didn't make me nervous. I had just endured 23 intense hours of labor 3 days prior. Maybe I was just tired.